Throwing an event isn’t as easy as it looks. Throwing an outdoor event can be even more complicated. Events can have a ton of moving parts, and organizing everything takes time and/or money.
If you can afford the expense, you’ll probably want to hire an event planner. A good event planner can bring years of experience to the table and an understanding of local venues and vendors. If you hire right, they’ll know the best way to help you achieve your vision. Once that’s figured out, they can book and track everything for you, absorbing much of the stress that can come with throwing an event.
But what if you have don’t have the budget for an event planner? Or, what if you enjoy handling the details yourself and really want to throw an epic event on your own? Can you really plan your own successful outdoor event without a professional?
There’s no doubt that planning any event is a lot to track, which is why it’s important to think ahead. But if you develop a solid strategy and stick to it, there’s no reason you can’t do it yourself.
If you decide to move forward with planning and coordinating your own outdoor event, here are 5 things that can help you be a success.
Come up with a good plan
This may sound like common sense, but it’s something many people end up trying to do on-the-fly. It’s an easy mistake to make too. At first glance, you only need a few major things to throw an outdoor event. If you’re throwing a wedding, for example, you’ll probably need things like:
- A venue or easily accessible location
- Wedding officiant
- An enormous table for all your gifts
That sounds easy enough, until you realize the venue doesn’t have drinking water, shelters, or comfortable restrooms for your dressed-up wedding guests. And what if there’s no kitchen for food prep or no electricity for entertainment? Suddenly, you’ve got several extra services to sort out. Circumstances like these are exactly why it’s important to have a plan, so let’s look at some things you’ll want to think about.
Start by deciding what your event plan will include. At a minimum, you need to know your event date, budget, venue, number of attendees, and how you will spread the word about your event. Even if these items look straightforward, making these decisions well ahead of time will help reduce your stress and ensure everything goes smoothly on the big day. As you dive into your event details, be strategic. Understand your goals and don’t lose sight of them.
Next, figure out your budget and design your event around that. Your budget should include costs for things like the venue, food, additional labor/help, entertainment, and secondary services. Be aware of any hidden fees for services you book.
If money is a big concern, look for low-volume dates that can give you discounted venue rates. Understand which services you can perform yourself to save money, and which services make more sense to hire out. For example, hiring a dj tends to be less expensive than a full band. If music will only be in the background, maybe you can get away with using a playlist.
When choosing a venue, consider if there is a publicly available location nearby that can save you money (keep in mind that public locations like parks can require a permit). Once you have a location or venue pinned down, find out if you’ll need secondary services like power or water. And what are the kitchen and restrooms like? Do you need to offer facilities like an air-conditioned Redbarn Restroom trailer?
Do a walk through ahead of time. Even if you feel your event doesn’t have many moving parts to track, rehearsing everything ahead of time can help you discover where issues might pop up. Finally, have an emergency plan ready for weather, regardless of the forecast. Make sure your guests can still have a good time if it rains, or the wind picks up, or the sun is a little too hot.
What’s your theme?
Consider tying together your venue, food and entertainment with a creative theme. While not entirely necessary, choosing a theme helps add structure to your event. Not sure whether to go with the rainbow cupcakes or the dolphin cookies? If you’re hosting a spring-themed outdoor event in the mountains, your guests may have recently seen an actual rainbow. Going with the rainbow-themed treats will fit right in.
A theme can help make your event more memorable, too. It helps transport your guests to whatever magical place you have designed for them and, if you do it well, they’ll be talking about your event for a long time. Themes can include design elements, but they can also be experiences. Here are some design ideas to jump-start your theme creativity:
- Wild West
- 80s, 90s, or 2000s
And here are some ideas for offering a unique experience:
- Make-your-own sushi station
- Painting lessons
- Treasure hunt
- Musician strolling through your event
- Flash mob
If you’ve come up with a theme you’re excited about, create buzz ahead of time on social media to get your guests excited about the event. Choosing an unforgettable theme can help your guests become participants rather than observers, adding extra energy to your event and reducing the time you must spend entertaining everyone.
Consider your guest’s experience
Don’t forget how important your guests are. They are sacrificing their own valuable time to attend your event, so think about giving them a wonderful time. A theme can help create a positive experience, but you’ll also want to make sure they avoid unpleasant experiences.
For example, what is the best date and time for guests that also works for you? Is your event location easily accessible to out-of-town guests? And if you’re inviting a lot of out-of-town guests, where will they stay and how much will it cost them? Do any of your guests have dietary restrictions or preferences? Do you want your guests to have the luxury experience a Redbarn Restroom trailer provides, or will they (and their clothes) be fine with a plastic portable toilet?
By answering these questions, you’ll show gratitude for your guests’ time and ensure they have the best experience possible. Sure, it can require a little extra work and money to give your guests a great memory of your event, but it’s worth it. Even if the event is about celebrating your big day, people will remember it more fondly if it’s obvious you care about their comfort.
Document the occasion
Even if your outdoor event doesn’t require a photo history, it’s a good idea to hire a photographer. Guests will appreciate the memories and you can express your own artistic talents by coming up with fun ways to present and share the photos on social media. This can re-ignite those memories over the next several years and allow people who couldn’t make it to enjoy the experience as well.
Professional photographers are a good idea because they often have ideas about how to make shots look more interesting. They understand the effect outdoor lighting has on photos, and they know how to compensate. If you’re photographing individual guests, they’ll know the best angles and how to get brilliant smiles.
If a professional photographer is out of your budget, consider posting on Craigslist or asking friends if they know an amateur who has sample photos you can look at. If you find a good fit, hobby photographers will enjoy the opportunity and may offer discounts for allowing them to use the photos in their portfolios.
Stay flexible and follow-up
Even with the best plans, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong. Staying flexible can help you avoid stress and be in the right mindset to resolve problems as they come up. It’s usually a mistake to stay committed to a plan just because you put a lot of time into it, especially if the circumstances or services related to your event have changed.
Be ready to think creatively when solving problems. If you can, hold back a little of your budget – just in case. Even if it’s troublesome, check in regularly with your hired services and any other help you have. This allows you to see potential issues before they become a problem. Over-communication is better than no communication when it comes to keeping your event together, especially if issues arise.
We hope this helps you plan your own amazing outdoor event. It’s most important to create a solid plan, update it as needed, and communicate clearly with your hired services. The rest of these tips can help you create a more memorable event by enhancing your guests’ experience, and we hope you choose Redbarn Luxury Restrooms as part of that enhanced experience if you need a portable restroom option.